Voices of Arizona: One 15-year-old and his family's experience fighting for trans rights

By Jill Ryan
Published: Thursday, May 18, 2023 - 11:08am
Updated: Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - 12:34pm

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KJZZ brings you news from throughout the state. The most important stories impact everyday Arizonans. Voices of Arizona brings you the real people behind the headlines.

Jill Ryan/KJZZ
The Trujillo family in their Tucson home: (from left) Lizette, Jose and Daniel.

Daniel Trujillo is a 15-year-old boy living with his parents in Tucson. 

He goes to public school, plays guitar, says he's "really, really into Radiohead.” 

While at his home, he's playing "My Iron Lung" on his guitar.

On top of music, he also values his grades, but each school year, when the Arizona legislative session starts, his grades take a hit.

He’s busy self advocating because he’s “discriminated against by [his] own senators.”

Daniel is transgender. 

“I’ve had a couple of experiences where they like publicly misgender me and they’re on like TV, live TV where they publicly misgender me or try to publicly dead-name me," Daniel said. 

Dead-naming is calling a trans person by their birth name, not their chosen name. 

And as anti-trans sentiment grows, his family says they’re seeing the country shrink. 

“If all of the bans actually pass, that have been proposed, there would be, I think it’s at 23 now, 23 states where we could not move and live in. Not that we would want to but we couldn’t even consider it,” said Daniel’s 43-year-old mom, Lizette.

She is born and raised in Arizona, first generation Mexican American. She and her husband, 41-year-old Jose, are small-business owners. He had immigrated from Mexico when he was a kid.

“It sets me back again; it reminds me of where my place is in society. It reminds me that no matter what I do, I'm always a second- or third-class citizen, or my family is," Jose said. 

Daniel's parents are members of a council of the Human Rights Campaign called Parents for Transgender Equality.

“Listen to your kids. Believe them," Jose said. He and Lizette were about to head to Washington, D.C., for the council's annual meeting.

Daniel was sitting this one out, but he's happy he gets to spend time with his friends. He says supportive environments do exist. 

"There are people who will love and support you as your whole self," Daniel said.

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